Pithy Phrase

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a woman, I put away childish things.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Why I didn't change my name

In case you didn't know, my full name is exactly the same as it was before I tied the proverbial knot.  You may be confused as to why I would choose to be unorthodox in this way.  Let me enlighten you.

1. I like my name the way it is.  It rolls off the tongue nicely.  My parents did a good job naming me.  Although I do sort of wish they would have gone by my mom's fantastic French Basque surname: Etchepare (etch-a-pear).

2. My name is fraught with genealogical significance. Yes, Miller is about the most boring last name in America* (and, incidentally, Germany), but it is the name of my forebears, and I revere it for that reason.  I like to remember that it was once the German Müller (we have this cool Amish family history book that dates my direct namesake line back to the first Miller to come to America, back in the seventeenth century).  My first and middle names are derived from the first names of my maternal grandparents, Jean and Olive.  I come from a long line of Basque "Jeans" and "Jeannes".  And besides being the name of my grandmother, Olivia is just a really awesome middle name.  There was no way I was going to scrap it.  I value my ancestors not only because of my religion.  As a geneticist, I find genealogy particularly interesting.  So I chose not to eliminate my heritage from my name just because I decided to change my marital status.  Those of you who have researched your ancestors and done family history know that the maiden name is the only one that counts, anyway.

3. I am the only child of the oldest child, of the oldest child, of the oldest child down the Miller line.  I am also the first female born on my father's side (obviously) in one hundred years.  I feel that this somehow gives me especial reason to retain my original surname.

4. My mother didn't change her last name . . . until I was in high school (I was kind of mad when she did that without telling me).  When she married she was an established, successful person.  Changing her name would have been extra-complicated and would have ruined her impact factor.  I remember people calling for Ms. Etchepare all the time when I was a kid.  I didn't think anything of it; that was my mom's name.  Because of her decision, I have no pre-existing notions that a woman must change her surname to that of her husband upon her marriage.  Also, my mother-in-law hyphenated her name, so Husband doesn't have any problems with my decision either.

5. I eliminated hyphenating because Husband wouldn't hyphenate too.  He likes his name the way it is (plus he didn't grow up being indoctrinated to believe that one day his name would have to change to that of his spouse).  I probably would have hyphenated if he had been willing to take on the hyphenated last name as well.

6. The name Herrick reminds me of two things.  The first is Robert Herrick, the famous poet (whose father was, coincidentally, named Nicholas).  The second is the species of fish known as herring.  While I find Robert Herrick's poetry amusing for its irony (a clergyman writing sensual poetry that urges young, unmarried women to be sexually active), I loathe seafood.  Wikipedia describes the herring as an "oily fish", which does not help matters.  Miller reminds me of a happy, pleasant middle-aged man living on the outskirts of a small village in Germany in a quaint cottage with a windmill behind it.

7. This motivation is shameful and perhaps immature, but I've included it anyway: I want to see people's reactions.  I have already had the pleasure of explaining to members of our branch that Husband and I have different last names.  No one seemed very taken aback by this.  Everyone calls me Sister Miller.  But I really can't wait to get back to Utah and ruffle some feathers there.  I'll try not to be annoying about it.  If someone calls me Sister Herrick, I won't correct them.  But I'll make it clear in my introductions what my full name is and what Husband's full name is.  I am confident they will all catch on eventually.  Am I being too optimistic here?

If you are married, why did you/your spouse keep or change names when you got married?  If you are single, what would you do with your name if you got married?

*I've found that famous people with average first names and boring last names tend to go by their full three names.  For instance, Sarah Parker becomes Sarah Jessica Parker; Catherine Jones becomes Catherine Zeta-Jones, etc.


Elizabeth Anne said...

Hello, dear! I wonder if it will be a big deal at all. I know we both have a tendency to think that we are breaking great boundaries and people in general are not too surprised.

For example, I used to get a lot of eyebrow raises with wanting to be a dentist. Now that it's happening, I get the in awe, whoa look. Perhaps the comments would still exist if I weren't already applying?

Now for me.... I'm a feminist like you. However, I NEED my last name to be changed because Dr. Schulzinger is ridiculously long and refers to my Dad. So I am looking for a man with a two-syllable last name and then I will be content. Now here's where it gets tricky. If I get married after dental school, I can't just go changing my office name and whatnot. So I have come up with a pseudonym for myself. If I am unmarried by the time I finish dental school, I am legally changing my last name to 'Jardine.' I have asked for Jessica's permission and she is ok with me being Dr. Jardine.

I think that sounds awesome.

Rachel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachel said...

sorry had to delete my last comment it had a blaring typo and I caught it after it posted! so here it is with the typo fixed.

honestly when I was married to the Herrick of my choosing I took his name for 2 reasons.
1. it would tick my family off even more that I was marrying the guy they didn't approve of if I dropped their name and took his.
2. you can now write my name as one long word by dropping a few letters here and there:rachel elizabeth herrick turns into
yep that's me.

Ryceejo said...

I've always told people that I'm going to "know" when it's the right guy because his last name will sound good with my first name. Ryceejo Nordstrom is great as is, and I've dated some awful last-namers who would destroy all that is right and good about a name. Celebrity women keep their last names to avoid confusion.

Your seventh reason would be the one reason i WOULDN'T want to keep my last name. I hate being asked questions over and over again and feeling like I have to justify myself. Unless I marry a man with a seafood last name, I hope to take his name, because it will sound good with Ryceejo, and thus confirm that it's true love. ;)

Samantha said...

I totally agree with the whole middle name thing--I loved my middle name and didn't want to change it just because I got married, so I kept it (although I did have to sacrifice my maiden name which was a bit sad).

Mhana said...

I wish I had kept my name. I have both, not hyphenated. It is all very complicated. The problem is that we went to get our marriage license the afternoon after I defended my master's thesis, which was a traumatic experience and I was a total wreck. I mean I was pouring sweat and tears afterward. So I wasn't thinking clearly and didn't realize I had to decide what my name would be RIGHT THEN. So I just took his last name and scrapped my own entirely. But then I regretted it because he has a common last name and I have a common first name. So then I went through a whole rigamarole court deal getting it legally changed to both. It seemed somehow wrong to scrap his name once I had it. I wish I just had my name because it is who I am, but I am not about to go through a second court filing and appearance. Yuck. And then the hassle of changing every document? Awful. But I just go by my own last name at work, and let everyone at church assume I have his, and I sign mine wtih both. It makes it complicated to remember what name is on my prescriptions.

Erstwild said...

Eliza R. Snow kept her maiden name. So, I don't think it's a big deal.

D. said...

I changed my name. I love my new last name, I wanted the same name as my husband, and, most of all I kind of hated my maiden name - which is Miller, haha. But not because its a bad name. I don't like that side of my family, my parents are recently divorced, and I don't like the connections it has. My new name only has happy associations.

HOWEVER, I kind of wish I had had a maiden name I liked so that I could have kept it. For purposes of ruffling feathers. It wouldn't be an issue where we are now but someday we will move. And I think it could be a little fun. Also, some of my husband's family would have been ... consternated. I love them, though. Partly why I want to ruffle their feathers.

Lisa and Bennett said...

This will make you...laugh? No, probably not.

I was offended when my dad wanted B to ask his permission to marry me. I said, No he won't ask you, that's not ok with me because I'm not your property to give away. My dad was all "tradition this, tradition that..." and B was like "Why did you say that? If he wants me to ask I totally will."

You don't know my dad super well, but that was a big deal that I said that and there were offenses all around. B said I basically should have just gone along with it. ....my opinion about myself and my own issues comes in where? Apparently I shouldn't have had a say about MYSELF, and should have let everyone else do the deciding. Pass me from one male to another.

Jones --> Russell. Why not. What's there to lose?

Going back, B and I have come to the conclusion that we should have just changed both of our last names to something cool, like Ferrari. Lol.

Kimora Avery said...

I can relate with 3rd reason. I only have one sibling and she’s a girl as well. Haha! And, we’ll be the last person on the family line to have that surname. That gave me a reason to keep my last name, well, that’s until I meet my future partner in life. ;) For now, I’m really happy with it!

Kimora Avery